Having just celebrated Earth Day you may be looking for some ways to decrease your carbon footprint. Look no further than your closet. Eco-friendly fashionistas have been making their voices heard and designers are listening. Several eco-friendly fabrics have been popping up on retailers’ shelves and you may not have even noticed.
There are three telltale signs of an environmentally friendly fabric. First up, the fabric must be able to be replenished in a relatively short period of time. The second sign of an eco friendly product is its ecological footprint. To figure this out, you would determine the amount of land (usually in acres) it takes to develop the fabric. The third indicator is how many chemicals the fabric requires to process it to make it ready for market.
Looking to up the eco-friendly factor of your wardrobe? Here’s a quick rundown of some fabrics that get high marks:
Organic Cotton: Did you know that growing cotton uses about 22% of all the insecticides used globally? Growing enough cotton for one t-shirt requires 257 gallons of water. Sounds pretty eco-unfriendly, doesn’t it? Enter organic cotton. Showing up in mass market stores everywhere including H & M’s recently launched Conscious Collection, organic cotton is a heavy hitter in the realm of eco-friendly fabrics. Land used to cultivate this fabric must be chemical-free for a minimum of three years before the cotton can even be planted. Eco bonus: look for garments that are coloured using natural or vegetable-based dyes.
Hemp: Hemp fabric is extremely durable and doesn’t require any chemicals or pesticides to grow. Not only in this fabric strong, but it also holds its shape.
Bamboo: Bamboo is a super-soft fabric that does not need pesticides to grow and is quick to replenish itself. As an added bonus, the fabric is naturally antimicrobial and repels odour making it extra attractive to fitness minded eco-savvy folks. Eco caution: Due to widespread demand, bamboo-fabric manufacturing could lead to deforestation. Before buying, take a few moments to check out the policies of any company you may patronize.
Lyocell: Lyocell is the generic name for the Tencel brand. It’s made from wood pulp, so it’s both biodegradable and recyclable. Plus it’s naturally wrinkle-free, so you don’t need to waste time or energy on ironing! Eco tip: Tencel is another fabric featured prominently in H&M’s new Conscious Collection.
Other notable eco-friendly fabrics include cashmere, silk, linen and alpaca.
By Kim England